Introduction to Landscape Painting Part 2: Masses

Discuss on Discord Register Free

home Forums Courses & Lessons Discussion Introduction to Landscape Painting Part 2: Masses

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #313677
    New Masters AcademyNew Masters Academy
    No badges. No points.

    The concept of masses, the two-dimensional interlocking shapes that make up a painting, is one of the more difficult concepts to understand. Learn how to take all of the raw information found in nature and reduce it into simple, organized masses.

    Landscape painting in a studio compared to painting on-location are completely different experiences, each with their own set of challenges to face. Painting landscapes on-location means you’re faced with constantly changing natural lighting, as well as nature, but the experience itself can really make your inspiration flow.

    In this painting course, Artist Ben Fenske teaches you the fundamentals of landscape painting through a series of lessons. These lessons include easy to follow instruction, analysis of famous landscape paintings, and demonstrations shot on-location, to help you better your painting skills.

    No points.

    Hello Ben and NMA team,

    What a great class, thank you thank you thank you.


    Laurie Hellewell
    No badges. No points.

    I would love some clarification about how Ben is counting the number of masses in this painting. Beginning with seven or less masses is something that has confused me for a long time and this block in looks to have more than seven to me, so obviously I am missing something. I would greatly appreciate any help on this issue. Thank you very much!


    Joshua JacoboJoshua Jacobo
    No badges. No points.


    Each mass is like a puzzle piece. But those pieces can have holes in them and complicated shapes and even be distributed across the whole canvas.

    The mass is basically a visually grouping range of value, or color or texture. If you want to reinforce the concepts they are very similar to what Bill Perkins teaches in his composition course. I would recommend trying that and then coming back to the landscape course once you have gone through that course!

    No points.

    Hello Laurie, I’m going through this process myself. As Joshua mentions, I conceive off Ben’s “masses” as akin to value groupings or, in some compositions, planes. They don’t necessarily have to be singular unbroken patches of value as there’s likely to be, in real life, a considerable range of value. The purpose here is to simplify what you see, to give you a standing chance of painting it.

    I’ve had some good results by finding reference landscape photos and c&p them into Google Slides to trace what I think are the value masses- similar to how Ben himself does it. This is typically easier on paintings than photographs, as the artist has done the hard work for you. If colour is making it difficult to judge, I’ll turn the picture into greyscale or even cut and paste segments of the drawing into little squares of value to compare against each other. This allows me to create a value hierarchy, which I number on the photograph. Some compositions lend themselves to this process, others less so. But as Ben mentions, if a picture doesn’t “work” at this stage, then it isn’t likely to be improved by adding more detail. Instead, the composition may need to be revisited.

    A second exercise to get the hang of it can be to use thumbnails; using both reference photos and paintings. Challenge yourself to quickly copy what you see using only 2 value masses, then 3, etc.  You’ll soon be crying out for more gradations of value, but you’ll also find that more than 5-7 makes a composition too complicated to work with.

    Both of these exercises can be useful starting points for a more detailed “value study”. Also, as mentioned, Bill Perkin’s has a great few videos on a similar subject (albeit, different terms used).

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by JackJack.
    Ruiting SongRuiting Song
    No badges. No points.

    I wonder if it is possible to upload the hi res pictures of all the master paintings mentioned in Ben Fenske’s Landscape course?

    Elizabeth BrittellElizabeth Brittell
    No badges. No points.

    Hello @Ruiting Song, we have just uploaded the master artwork shown in Ben Fenske’s Introduction to Landscape Painting Part 2: Masses!

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)

You must be logged in to use the forums. Sign Up for a free account or Sign In.